Chapter 1: Broken Morning Breaks
Beep! Beepbeepbeep. Her phone squealed to life, cacophony of lights and alarms to alert that her day had begun.
Annoying damned electronic, cruel, noisy gift from her sister.
She already had a headache from her studies until well after midnight. She even studied in her dreams with books and notepads that chased her.
This was today’s name for Kaylee Grant.
Then, her day went from bad to worse.
“Oh, god.” She was out of coffee. No tea, either. What a miserable day.
But then, she hated all mornings that started before noon.
Next experience part of the pre-coffee day, a broken shoelace.
She retied the lace on her work-shoe took more time than she had allowed and was now late, Kaylee stumbled to her car with a loose shoelace and discovered that someone had gone down the block and slashed everyone’s tires.
Vandalism that included her tires.
Two flat tires! Twenty minutes drive, no car and now she was late for work.
Even Melanie, her sister who lived in the apartment below her had already left for school. Finals week, and Melanie ate breakfast at school while she studied up to the last-minute.
Kaylee had final scheduled before noon and needed to go to work to get a few hours on the clock.
Even when she called in, the manager told her that there was no one to cover her tables for the breakfast rush and she had to make it – or else.
Even if she showed up late, was not enough, he paid her cash and invited her to find employment elsewhere as a waitress, barista and bartender.
Being fired just Set the mood for the day, and Melanie still did not answer her phone, so she needed to walk the five miles to class at Ocean Bay University for the Arts and was unable to focus on her finals, time and again she tried to name off the six traits that identify the Severe Style and only sigh. It was a lost cause, she could name off the pages and chapters of the book where the traits where documents, even the paragraphs. But the traits were a blank spot in her memory.
Of the two pages of essay test, she could only answer half of them. The Professor walked slowly around the room and watched the students write – and professor became curious to her anxiety and told her to put the test down and to see him later.
*Yeah, later.* She hated that thought.
In his office he would grant that she passed the test, but only after she agreed to pose for him.
“To paint you.” he said.
*Oh, Yeah. I bet.*
A nude pose, while she held a phallic symbol of a banana was the probable setup.
She passed on that offer.
Early in the day, it was still before noon, so she chose to take her frustrations out at the academy of martial arts and get some time in practice for her Guru Level in Eskrima Serrada.
While she warmed up, she dropped her rattan stick three times, fell twice and tossed the weapon across the room once. The Guru of the school gave a gentle laughed and worked out with her.
The flow drill was awful. She could not get the speed at first, at last she achieved what she considered a proper workout, and she disarmed the Guru after an hour. Still and all, her performance was below her level and she was not able to focus.
“Go home and relax. You are way off today.”
His words, meant to comfort her, only served to enrage her soul further.
“To hell with it, I’ll go to the beach!” She said to herself and took her bag with towels and swimsuit out of the closet and a bottle of water to drink from the fridge.
One job termination, one failed test at the university that her parents paid a hefty price for and now the Guru all but patted her on the head and told her it would be all right.
THAT pissed her off.
Patronized by the Guru that she respected above anyone in the academy, well, except for the GrandMaster when he came to town.
She hiked the two miles to the beach and she moved through the angles of her martial art in her thoughts. Angry as she was, she imagined using her bare hands to beat someone into submission for a change.
She should beat anyone who took advantage of her unfortunate moments.
Sitting at the top of the to-do list, she wanted to find and beat the dirt-bag that cut her tires.
Everyone’s tires and left her with no one to even ask for a favor in that early hour. It promised to be a lot of money she did not have to replace those tires, now without a job, she would have to call dad. Not even her sister had money she could borrow to buy tires.
She took a deep breath and let it out in a slow controlled exhale. Maybe she could buy used tires? At fraction of the cost of new treads on the car, it still took a bite out of her budget.
And budget woes brought her back. Back to the thoughts to inflict pain on selected people.
Pain to people who cut the tires of her car, pain to professors that wanted little more than to have her stand on a stage, naked.
She wanted time with the Guru who – Well, she liked him, he always treated her well and she did not want to cause pain to him. Still, she wanted to disarm him and toss him around the padded floor for a change, like he had done with her at the Academy of the Filippino Martial Art.
Kaylee Grant, waitress, barista, bartender, sun-worshipper, peaceful college student wanted to beat someone with her fists, sticks and feet until they cried.
She walked along the sidewalk to the beach more than ten-thousand feet distant. Her mind worked out the math, while her artist’s soul sought the beauty in the world while she thought and measured of how she might draw or paint this tree or that mall.
The walk to the beach had the effect to sooth her spirit and gave her time to become introspective, she pondered about a change in her major. Three years in this school and change?
*Unwise.* She shook her head. *Better to stick it out, now. If I have to tell Pops that he was up for an extra couple years of tuition for studies? That would create a family storm I have no desire to cause.*
Dad, a good man, but she had seen him lose his temper with people over the years. A rare occurrence, but even the mayor of her home town backed down at a council’s open forum while her dad (Then the city manager.) and the mayor clashed.
Kaylee walked on, her white-knuckled hold on her beach-bag slowly relaxing to something less than a death-grip, the sunshine and beach already having the effect of calm and relaxation she needed.
And she did not even have her toes in the sand yet.